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One challenge for countries like Australia is that Pacific states do not view relationships "as a choice or a swap," but rather additions to existing cooperation, said Lowy Institute research fellow Mihai Sora.   © Illustration by Hiroko Oshima
Asia Insight

Paradise lost? China, the Solomons and the battle for the Pacific

Security pact tests old benefactors like Australia amid vaccine diplomacy rush

ELIZABETH BEATTIE, Contributing writer | Pacific Islands

TOKYO -- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison boasted in March about how his country's COVID-19 vaccine aid to Pacific islands had prevented a Chinese "incursion" into the region. About two weeks later, the Solomon Islands seemed to blow that claim out of the water when it confirmed it was hammering out a security partnership with Beijing.

The Solomons' pact with China has become a thorn in Morrison's side as he heads into an election this Saturday. Amid fears that Beijing could use the deal to establish a naval presence, Morrison finds himself exposed to attacks that he allowed the very sort of incursion he claimed to have prevented.

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